World News Wrapup: 8 June 2017

Ohio sues opioid manufacturers, Albuquerque Walgreens in strife over misoprostol refusal, Canadian woman falls through pharmacy trapdoor

Albuquerque, New Mexico: An Walgreens pharmacy has been accused of discrimination after an employee allegedly refused to fill a misoprostol prescription to a teenage girl.

The girl went to the pharmacy with her mother to pick up an IUD and anti-anxiety medicine, as well as misoprostol, but only the first two items were supplied. The two then had to drive to an alternate Walgreens to pick up the misoprostol.

According to a discrimination complaint filed against the first Walgreens by the Americal Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the Southwest Women’s Law Center, the mother then returned to the first pharmacy to make a complaint.

However the pharmacist “explained in a judgmental tone that he was refusing to fill the prescription because he had a ‘pretty good idea’ for what purpose the medication would be used,” says the New Mexico Political Report.

According to the complaint this is discrimination as the refused medication was “prescribed to assist with a contraceptive procedure that only women receive”.

Walgreens said in a statement that while it permits pharmacists and other employees to refuse to complete a transaction if they have a moral objection, they are required to refer the transaction to another employee or manager on duty to complete the request.

Yahoo Health reported that the girl had sought the medication to treat difficulties with menstruation.


Ohio, USA: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed a lawsuit against several opioid suppliers for alleged “fraudulent marketing practices,” reports FiercePharma.

The lawsuit names Teva, Allergan, Johnson & Johnson, Purdue and Endo and alleges the companies – individually and together – broke marketing rules and imitated the behaviour of Big Tobacco companies, working to convince “key opinion leaders” of the drugs’ benefit in managing chronic pain.

This helped fuel an opioid epidemic which has had “far-reaching financial, social, and deadly consequences” in Ohio, the suit claims.

Teva and Allergan declined to comment to FiercePharma, but a spokesperson for J&J’s Jannsen said the company felt the allegations were “both legally and factually unfounded” and that the company had acted appropriately and in patients’ interest.

Other jurisdictions, including Illinois and New Hampshire, have also targeted opioid manufacturers.


Scotland: Only 18% of Scots registered for the country’s minor ailments service, Chemist + Druggist reports, largely because the eligibility criteria were too restrictive and there were limitations on advertising.

Sixty per cent of Scotland’s population was eligible to use the service.

The service was “held back from realising its full potential,” said Community Pharmacy Scotland chief executive Harry McQuillan. Advertising was not able to penetrate into the public domain, he said, because it was restricted to NHS-approved leaflets and posters inside pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries.

“We can’t even shout about how good the service is to the limited number of people who could access it,” Mr McQuillan said.

A pilot scheme has been launched in the Inverclyde region which permits any patient to use the service.


Victoria, Canada: A woman was shopping in the Rexall Pharmacy in downtown Victoria over the weekend when she suddenly fell through a trapdoor.

She suffered a broken arm after the 10-foot fall through the door, which was open at the time.

According to the Times Colonist, she had to be rescued by firefighters, who set up a tripod and three of whom descended into the hole to get the woman.


Trinidad and Tobago: In 2015, pharmacist Ivory Hayes was accepted into John Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health to do a Masters in Public Health – but the catch was that she couldn’t afford to pay living expenses and direct costs of the course.

She decided to seek help through crowd-funding at, and raise money through selling T-shirts and holding a movie night.

Ms Hayes told the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian that she has helped hundreds of people through her work as a pharmacist and health and diabetes educator for more than 11 years.

“I have seen the difference that research and well-thought-out programmes can make in the lives of individuals,” she told the Guardian.

“I want to be a catalyst for the change that would significantly improve the health forecast of T&T and the region at large.”

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